Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing

First Advisor

Cabri, Louis


bpNichol, Feminist, Martyrology, Marxist, paragram, Whorf




This thesis examines the ways in which The Martyrology, the magnum opus of Canadian poet bpNichol, examines the influence that language has on thought. The early twentieth century linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf propagated the idea that the language that one speaks affects how he or she thinks about the physical and conceptual world in which he or she lives. This idea, often called Whorfianism, has been highly influential in Marxist and feminist theory, and is often used to help describe the ways in which capitalist and patriarchal power structures are perpetuated. The Martyrology also examines such power structures, and it frequently does so by playing with the language used to describe those power structures and the language of those who benefit from such power structures. Through play with language, The Martyrology plays with how the reader understands his or her physical and conceptual world, becoming more aware of the problematic ways in which English encodes gender and class. This study explores how The Martyrology alters and changes the structures and conventions of English to empower the reader to be more aware of the ways that English influences how he or she thinks.